DURHAM — Raw milk activist Michael Schmidt has been sentenced to 60 days in jail for his role in obstructing a peace officer during a raid of a farm on his property.
The longtime activist, who ran a cow-share program in the municipality of Durham in Grey County, was found guilty on Oct. 19.
He was sentenced on Nov. 8.
Schmidt has since filed an appeal, alleging “gross misinterpretation of evidence provided, which definitely creates an impression of complete bias from the judge,” he told Farmers Forum. He was released on bail of $2,500 on Nov. 22.
Schmidt formerly operated a cow-share operation in the region. Since then, the torch has been passed to another operation, Our Farm Our Food Co-op, which is based on his property. Schmidt has no legal interest in the co-op; he doesn’t own it, nor is he a member.
Four of his supporters, owners of the co-op, who were on the farm at the time of the raid were also charged. Charges against three were dropped, and one was found not guilty.
A sentence of 60 days or fewer means that the convicted can serve jail time on weekends.
Justice Ronald Minard told the court that it was Schmidt’s “ongoing, underlying defiance of the law that has brought us here . . . This is a very serious offence. The agents were there under judicial authorization.”
Provincial officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, along with OPP officers, met with about 70 of the co-op owners during the 2015 raid. While equipment from the farm was seized, they blocked off the entrance to the farm so the officials couldn’t leave.
Minard said that Schmidt encouraged the protestors to block the entrance to the farm, according to video taken from the raid, which he said constituted evidence of obstruction. He added that he had been considering giving Schmidt a five-month sentence. “The sentence has to not only get the message home to Mr. Schmidt, but to members of the community,” Justice Minard said.